Kelly Services office staffing company launches Kelly 33 second chance hiring initiative

Kelly 33You know that second chance hiring has entered the mainstream when Kelly Services, one of the world’s largest employment agencies, gets into the act.

The company has launched the Kelly 33 second chances initiative, after partnering with Toyota Manufacturing of Kentucky to help staff its facility in Georgetown. Over a seven-year period, Kelly and Toyota offered opportunities to job seekers with nonviolent misdemeanors and felonies that were unrelated to their job responsibilities. At the same time, the two companies were instrumental in developing DEI (diversity, equity and inclusion) initiatives that would help these workers adapt to the workforce.

Kelly and Toyota pioneered staffing agency second chance hiring

This is how they did it:

  • Kelly evaluated more than 1,200 job candidates with records.
  • 92% were eligible for employment. And, of those, more than half — 645 people — took temporary assignments at the facility.
  • 156 of them were eventually hired to full-time positions.

And the results confirmed that people from this population can make excellent employees and improve a company’s bottom line:

  • Toyota increased its accessible talent pool by 20%.
  • The plant’s turnover rate improved by 70%.
  • Not one worker has been terminated for behavior that correlated to their conviction.

Based on its success with Toyota, Kelly launched Kelly 33 in the fall as part of its Equity@Work initiative.

“The name represents the 33% of American adults who have a criminal history,” says Kathryn Zbanek, Kelly’s director of change management. “This affects a great part of the U.S. population. We wanted to humanize these individuals.”

Kelly is employing hiring practices throughout the company similar to what worked at Toyota. Staff members assess each individual job applicant — both for temporary and permanent positions — and what they were charged with. If the charge is not related to the job, they’re going to be allowed to work.

“We do not consider that marijuana possession, for example, should disqualify anyone from getting a job,” says Zbanek. “But If someone has a traffic violation of some sort, that may preclude them from a driving position but not other positions.”

Kelly 33 is a hiring practice mindset

“Kelly 33 is not so much a program but a mindset around employers being open to employing people with criminal histories,” says Zbanek. Kelly helps companies learn how to deal with employees from this population. “We’re looking at policies and practices.”

Kelly’s account executives speak with the companies they handle to determine their hiring practices. “If they’re already using policies similar to ours, there’s no problem. But some people use stricter policies, and we talk to them about where they may be restricting their access to talent,” she adds.

The initial emphasis is on Kelly’s own job seeking clients and the businesses at which they are placed. But the company expects its efforts to go far beyond that to changing the way employers hire in general.

“We have conversations with our clients to change their policies about hiring people with a criminal background,” says Zbanek.

Kelly helps employers examine their hiring practices and ask themselves such questions as:

  • How do you screen people who are coming into your organization?
  • Who do you screen out who is eligible to work for you?
  • How do you do community outreach to organizations that can support those employees who might need help?”

The company recently joined the Second Chance Business Coalition. It was the first staffing provider to do so.

The impact of second chance hiring

What does this new initiative mean for Kelly?

“It means that we are continuing to live out our noble purpose, which is connecting people to work that enriches their lives,” says Zbanek.

And it also means a lot for the staffing industry as a whole.

“It’s a challenge. We have an incredible opportunity with very large employers to influence how people access work. Removing barriers to work is the most important way you can impact people’s lives. The reach that we at Kelly and our competitors have is incredible. We touch all of the large employers across the globe,” she says.

“This is not just the right thing to do. It’s also good business. And we encourage others to consider similar efforts.”

Interested in working for Kelly? Apply online at

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